The PM’s Trust Fund was reactivated in 2009 by Bainimarama following widespread flooding and damage caused by Cyclone Mick and then again in 2012 following Cyclone Evan.
In the aftermath of Cyclone Winston, PM Bainimarama has called for fresh donations. In the past 3 weeks he received at least $6 million into the Fund as donations.
However, there is a total lack of accountability and transparency in the management of the Fund. For some time well before Cyclone Winston, the FLP had been calling on the Prime Minister to publish audited accounts of the Fund. There was no response.
FLP last week (9 March 2016) wrote to the Prime Minister’s Office once again calling for accountability in the management of the Fund and the release of audited accounts.
In the letter, we cited comments from Reports of the Auditor General from 2009-2015 critical of the lax manner in which the Fund is being managed/administered.
In its 2013 report the Auditor General said it could not establish the accuracy of cash balance as at 31st December 2013, because moneys totalling $1.065 million had not been receipted when received and monthly Bank reconciliation statements for the account had not been prepared.
In his 2014 Report, he claimed there was no cash book for the bank account, only a cheque register. Bank reconciliation for January to August 2014 were all done in September 2014 and approved by the PS three days later.
The observations of the Auditor-General are serious and point to the need to exercise better control over the administration of the Fund.
FLP has called on the PM’s office to:
• publish the audited accounts of the Fund for each year since 2009
• inform the people as to the accountability arrangements that will apply to the moneys collected through the appeals currently in place
• publish, in due course, the value and the details of cash and aid-in-kind received from corporate entities, individuals, charitable/religious organisations and foreign governments, and its distribution by locality, for the information of the people and the donors.
While Opposition MPs have donated part of their salaries to the Cyclone Relief Fund, highly paid FF Government Ministers are going around distributing ration packs, donated by corporate entities, in their own names.
Cronies of both Praveen Bala and Rosy Akbar have gone around to homes in the Ba area, delivering parcels of food rations with the message that: “This is a gift from Bala” or “This is from Rosy Akbar”.
The food packs are those donated by CJ Patel, to the Disaster Management Office and it is outright dishonesty on the part of these Ministers to pass them off as their own donations to the victims of Cyclone Winston.
Areas where these donated parcels were sent/delivered by cronies of Bala and Akbar: Rarawai, Korovuto, Veisaru, Yalalevu, Varadoli, Namosau and Vatulaulau.
Bala ordered the Ba town Council to use its vehicle to deliver his “parcels” in the Varadoli area.
But it would only be fair to say that the game of passing off donated ration packs as government aid was kicked off by PM Bainimarama and AG Khaiyum. It will be recalled that both hurried to the West when the CJ Patel donated packs were ready for distribution.
Third week into the cyclone, yet not a word from the Government on their assistance package to the badly ravaged victims of Winston.
Are they waiting for the $81m UN flash appeal funds to arrive before they decide? 7 March 2016